Last year I trouble putting together a year-end top 10 favorite songs list, although much of that difficulty was the fault of my own ignorance. Nonetheless, 2009 was a dynamite year for singles, and I had to cut a lot to pare my list down to 25 picks. Sadly, hip-hop has another bad year, although I haven’t spent much time with the Pitchfork championed ‘Shineblockas’ yet. Enough rambling though, here’s my list, my favorite 25 songs of 2009:
- ‘Young Hearts Spark Fire’ – Japandroids from Post-Nothing
Japandroids have crafted their musical masterpiece out of the barest rock elements imaginable: one ridiculously fuzzed out electric guitar, one drum part alternating between tribal pounding and cymbal crashes, two dudes who can’t sing, and about 4 bars worth of lyrics. Now even the punks should be jealous of that accomplishment.
- ‘Wind Phoenix (Proper Name)’ – Cymbals Eat Guitars from Why There Are Mountains
In an album defined by massively ambitious sprawl, Cymbals Eat Guitars were able to pull it all together for one shining moment of warped song structure, obtuse lyrical imagery, trumpet accompaniment, larynx-shredding screams, and glorious, glorious hooks.
- ‘My Girls’ – Animal Collective from Merriweather Post Pavilion
So obviously brilliant, I can’t even give Pitchfork props for finally getting it right and putting a truly deserving song at the top of their list.
- ‘People Got A Lotta Nerve’ – Neko Case from ‘Sound Opinions’ session
Am I the only one who thinks elephants are inherently depressing? I mean, even if the famine and drought of their decaying ecosystems doesn’t get them, the poachers surely will. The essential melancholy of this song is highlighted in this stripped-down version. Please download it from http://www.soundopinions.org/archive/2009/february.html#guestneko immediately.
- ‘Lisztomania’ – Phoenix from Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
This song earns number 4 on my list by virtue of its first 25 seconds alone. The next three and a half minutes aren’t too bad either.
- ‘House of Flying Daggers’ – Raekwon from Only Built 4 Cuban Linx Pt. II
Second best line: “Rae’s job is to make sure the coke is fluffy, while I politic his birthday bash with Puffy” - Ghostface
Best line: “Bury me in Africa with whips and spears and rough diamonds out of Syria” – Raekwon
- ‘I’m Confused’ – Handsome Furs from Face Control
God made Dan Boeckner to bring us ferocious power chords and to sing every proletarian lyric like a guy with a knife in his chest.
- ‘Deadbeat Summer’ – Neon Indian from Neon Indian
Amazing, this song is just as good on December 26 as it was when I listened to it in early August.
- ‘No Hope Kids’ – Wavves from Wavvves
Best punk song of the year.
- ‘I Hate My Job’ – Cam’ron from Crime Pays
Out of the blue, Cam’ron decides to switch from professional asshole to working-class hero, and sets his transformation to one of the best beats he’s ever rapped over.
- ‘When I’m Gone’ – Vivian Girls from Everything Goes Wrong
The chorus of this song crystallizes pretty much everything the Vivian Girls do well.
- ‘That’s That’ – DOOM from Born Like This
Hearing DOOM sing the refrain of “I Wanna Be Where You Are” at the end of this track was a far more emotional moment for me than when I first learned about Michael Jackson’s death.
- Knotty Pine’ – Dirty Projectors from Dark Was the Night
Something tells me that David Byrne’s vocals are the glue that holds this whole song together.
- ‘Sovereignty’ – Japandroids from Post-Nothing
The boys take a break from whining about their girl problems to give us a genuine love song.
- ‘Suffering Season’ – Woods from ‘Daytrotter’ session
This song is so achingly beautiful. Not what I expect from spooky, atmospheric folk rockers. Please check it out at http://www.daytrotter.com/dt/woods-concert/20030979-37382150.html
- ‘Too Sick to Pray’ – Phosphorescent from To Willie
90% of the credit goes to Willie for writing such an incredible lyrical gem, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else nailing it as well as Matt Houck does here.
- ‘Call and Response’ – Time New Viking from Stay Awake EP
I have a very soft spot for cheesy keyboards in garage rock, which is probably why Beth Murphy consistently makes me swoon.
- ‘When We Were Alive’ – The Thermals from Now We Can See
Second best punk song of the year. Musical eco-terrorism.
- ‘Wasted’ – Gucci Mane from The State Vs. Radric Davis
The best mainstream rap hit of the year is actually about racial unification under the banner of partying.
- ‘Walkabout’ – Atlas Sound from Atlas Sound
Noah Lennox strikes again. I’ll admit that I haven’t been the biggest fan of Bradford or Noah’s past work, so I consider the depth of my love for this song to be vindication of it greatness.
- ‘The Reeling’ – Passion Pit from Manners
I can’t believe I actually like a pop song that uses a children’s choir.
- ‘Dominos’ – Big Pink from A Brief History of Love
This song is fun to sing-along to, not that I can identify with anything that these guys are talking about.
- ‘Raindrops’ – Basement Jaxx from Scars
I’ve only listened to this song a few times, but something tells me that a few more plays could propel it to the number one spot.
- ‘The Pharoahs’ – Neko Case from Middle Cyclone
Hard to choose Neko’s best ballad from 2009, but I’ll go with the one that brought me to the verge of tears during her performance at the State Theater in Ithaca.
- ‘Hold the Line’ – Major Lazer from Guns Don’t Kill People, Lazers Kill People
Since I didn’t start listening to Santigold until this year, I’m going to give this Diplo and Switch collaboration a nod on my 2009 list.